Spending long layovers at airports awaiting international flights can be a real drag and whilst the Airport in Hong Kong is far from the best I’ve visited, it does have some extra comfort features which others often lack. If you are heading to Hong Kong in the near future, knowing the following could make your wait time a more pleasant experience.
There are power access and charging points located at stations throughout the seating areas, at all the departure gates. Lift the tiny slot and insert your USB charging cable from your device or smart phone for a quick re-charge. Especially handy if you have your boarding pass saved on your device and your phone shuts down due to low battery!
Where can you Rest and Relax?
The departure gates have large seating areas and alternate rows of 3- seater continuum, (i.e. seats without inside armrests), for passengers with long layovers who really need to lie flat to rest. You can also find reclining lounges in the ‘snooze area,’ sectioned off, as it is, amidst potted plants, in a quiet zone behind the shops. Please note that there are only about ten of these highly sought after lounges, so it might be necessary to stake one out, if you wish to secure one, when it becomes free. The reason: many passengers, (annoyingly), place their bags on the vacant lounge and walk away to explore the shops, leaving other family members to guard both the bag and vacant lounge, which they do, in a way not dissimilar to a rottweiler trained to kill any contender who comes a bit too close.
There is a pay-to-use lounge open for all departing passengers, upstairs, and this along with the airline’s business lounge, looked to be a fairly basic affair. Massages and the usual gym are also available at a price.
If you are without a smart device of your own, there are still plenty of free internet stations in both terminals, that will grant you web access in free 15 minute blocks (renewable). Just remember to log out of social media/sites to protect your privacy as it is a public computer and stores your history.
Chek Lap Kok is a very busy airport and the massive glass windows, lining both sides of the departure hall, not only let in lots of natural light, they also allow departing passengers to view the spectacular landings and takeoffs of planes at close proximity compared to many modern airports. In fact, you can see quite a bit of Hong Kong in the distance, again unlike other airports, that I find, are often situated far out of the city areas. A bonus if you are merely transiting through Hong Kong.
Another feature you won’t find in many other airports, is the provision of hot, cold and warm water, on tap – gratis. This is particularly useful if you like your own special type of tea or have a spare teabag/cocoa from generic hotel chain stays or even need to warm the baby’s bottle. It was a godsend for me. I know the Workplace health and Safety workers are uttering loud audible gasps right about now, but of course quite sensibly, there is a child proof lock on the hot water tap, so it is all good.
Starbucks maintain a store here, as well as several high-end fashion stores. Usual pricing prevails.
The Down Side
Transit passengers at Hong Kong Airport, must go through security a second time before they access the shopping areas. Furthermore, a manual check of hand luggage is often conducted at boarding time, as you pass through the departure gate itself. At least they have safety in mind!
Since the airport’s redevelopment and the Chinese government officially re-gained control over Hong Kong, there are now many more street and advisory signs written predominantly in Chinese. English language signage is present, but you won’t find it on every corner, so at times one needs to make use of the picture icons to make sense of the sign, in particular those detailing the airport layout and direction of movement for some of the 68,488,000 passengers that pass through its hall.
Smokers have a specially designated area at the airport but I have, unfortunately, noted that the disabled toilets often reek of tobacco, despite signs prohibiting smoking in those locations. Hefty fines are imposed if caught, so beware!
And my final tips for an enjoyable layover, are to remember to drink plenty of water or fluids other than tea, coffee and alcohol, (which dehydrates the body), and, walk around the departure hall prior to your flight, as maintaining fluids and exercise are important to reduce the risk of flight related health problems, such as Flight- related Deep Vein Thrombosis.
Travel Tuesday – Something to Ponder About